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It’s Not Who Plays, It’s What They Do

It’s Not Who Plays, It’s What They Do

The subject of the week is who will play for the got-it-all-wrapped-up Cowboys this Sunday against the gotta-win Redskins. Wade Phillips has been asked, Joe Gibbs has been asked, the players on both teams have been asked. Various media members are asking each other.

However, that's only part of the question involving the Cowboys' approach to the game. The larger part of the question is this: What will the Cowboys, be they Tony Romo or backup fullback Oliver Hoyte, do when they are in the game? In other words, what kind of game plan will the Dallas coaches employ?

There are many reasons to think that Phillips and Jason Garrett will have a plan that has a distinct, perhaps predominant, flavor of vanilla. The Cowboys could well play the Redskins two weeks from Sunday if the Redskins qualify for the playoffs and manage to win their Wild Card game in Seattle.

Let's say that the Cowboys have noticed on film that LaRon Landry will bite on a particular type of run fake. Are they going to run a play that will exploit that weakness on Sunday and let Landry learn from it? Or will they keep that play in their back pocket and save it for a potential rematch in Texas Stadium?

Or, suppose that they see Todd Collins doing something that tips off a particular route and throw. Are they going to have their DB jump the route and get a pick six that is ultimately meaningless? It's much more likely that the back will keep the play in front of him, make the tackle and smile, picturing running down the sideline for a touchdown in the playoffs.

The Redskins, on the other hand, will not have the luxury of holding anything back. They will have to exploit every matchup, empty out their bag of tricks and take advantage of every opportunity.

For the Skins, it's do or die. For Dallas, it's get it done now or give it another go in a couple of weeks in a game that has meaning to them. In terms of strategy, that situation gives the Redskins an edge this Sunday. Should they reach the divisional round, however, that advantage would then swing back to the guys with the stars on their hats.

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Final injury report: Three Redskins out for Sunday

Final injury report: Three Redskins out for Sunday

Redskins

Out

C Spencer Long (concussion)—He missed the second half of the Cardinals game and has been in the concussion protocol this week. John Sullivan will start in his place.

S Will Blackmon (concussion)—Blackmon also has been in the concussion protocol and has not practiced all week. Donte Whitner and Duke Ihenacho will handle the safety position.

DE Anthony Lanier (leg)—The reserve lineman missed the Arizona game with a leg contusion. Gruden said he was kicked in the lower leg against the Cowboys and the swelling is still an issue.

Questionable

G Shawn Lauvao (groin)—It was a surprise to see him watching practice on Wednesday as no injury had been reported for him. But he came in for treatment and did not practice on Wednesday and Thursday. If he can’t go, Arie Kouandjio will start at left guard.

OT Ty Nsekhe (ankle)—Fortunately Trent Williams is back from his suspension; Nsekhe was the starter while he was out. If Nsekhe is out, Vinston Painter will be the swing backup tackle.

TE Jordan Reed (shoulder)—After missing last week’s game with a third-degree separation of the AC join in his left shoulder, Reed was able to practice on a limited basis this week. If range of motion is still an issue he could sit or play very limited snaps. If it’s a matter of pain tolerance he will be a full go.  

G Brandon Scherff (ankle)—He has been limited in practice during the week but it seems certain that he will go against the Eagles.

DE Chris Baker (ankle)—Baker missed some practice this week but he should be able to go against the Eagles although his level of effectiveness will bear watching.

Also questionable for the Redskins: DE Ricky Jean Francois (knee), OLB Preston Smith (groin), ILB Will Compton (hip), TE Derek Carrier (knee)

Eagles

Questionable

WR Jordan Matthews (ankle) and RB Ryan Matthews (knee) were full in practice all week and it seems likely that the Eagles’ leading receiver and rusher, respectively, will play on Sunday. Up in the air is the status of WR Dorial Green-Beckham (oblique), who missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday.

RT Halapoulivaati Vaitai (knee) will miss his third straight game. He had a rough start in his NFL debut against the Redskins in Week 6 but he remained the starter until getting injured in Week 11. Since then the Eagles have moved LG Alan Barbre to right tackle with Stefen Wisniewski going in at left guard.

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New #RedskinsTalk Podcast - WR Ryan Grant opens up about good and bad of NFL life

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USA Today Sports

New #RedskinsTalk Podcast - WR Ryan Grant opens up about good and bad of NFL life

Ryan Grant generates a ton of reaction from Redskins fans - and it's not always postive. The third-year wideout sat down with JP Finlay to talk about the ups and downs of life in the NFL. 

Click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates